The most recent convictions involved the 2008 illegal killing of a half-dozen elk and mule deer in Utah’s Book Cliffs, according to a news release.
“The severe disregard for wildlife and wildlife law in this case is appalling,” said DWR Conservation Officer T.J. Robertson.
In October 2008, Erik Ambriz, 33, and Michael Gordon, 36, shot and killed a trophy bull elk in Bitter Creek Canyon. They tagged the bull with a Colorado resident youth archery license while transporting it back to Colorado.
A call to the Utah Division of Wildlife Turn-in-a-Poacher (UTiP) hotline initiated an investigation into this incident, which uncovered several “brazen” wildlife crimes in Utah and Colorado, DWR officials said in the news release.
Investigators learned that Ambriz, Gordon, and Adam Boden, 22, shot and killed a cow elk in Utah that was sold in Colorado. They also shot a trophy bull elk in Colorado and offered to sell it to undercover investigators, officials said.
The spree continued with two more bucks shot and killed near the mouth of Bitter Creek Canyon. The heads were severed and the carcasses left to waste. As investigators were closing in on them, Ambriz killed another six-by-six point trophy bull elk near Wild Cow Wash in the Book Cliffs, where it was left for Gordon to retrieve.
Gordon and Boden pleaded guilty in 7th District Court in Moab to several class A misdemeanor charges of aiding and assisting in the wanton destruction of protected wildlife. Both were ordered to pay $4,000 each in restitution. Gordon was sentenced to pay $2,000 in fines and Boden was sentenced to pay $790 in fines.
Their hunting privileges have been revoked for 20 and 10 years, respectively, in Utah and 37 other states participating in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
Ambriz had served four years in the Colorado State Prison for the killing of a six-by-six point trophy bull elk and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person prior to being arraigned in 7th District Court in Utah on five felony charges.
In a September 2012 plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to three third-degree felonies of wanton destruction of protected wildlife. He was ordered to pay $2,200 in fines and $4,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to serve 120 days in the Grand County Jail in Moab. According to court documents, an arrest warrant was issued Oct. 12 for Ambriz. The information in the warrant indicates that he did not report to Grand County Jail, as ordered, to serve his sentence.
Ambriz was stripped of all wildlife license privileges in Colorado for the remainder of his life. That suspension will be honored by all states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact states.
Last week, DWR officials announced that three other Colorado men, Ostan Ware, 18, Ryan Hagin, 19, and Kody Kean, 21, had pleaded guilty in 7th District Court on charges that they poached a four-point buck and a doe deer in Utah’s Book Cliffs in November 2011.
DWR officials are asking anyone who observes or suspects any wildlife violations to contact the UTiP hotline at 1-800-662-3337.